9.3.2 Food infection
The diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all these diseases are covered in more detail in the Module on Communicable Diseases.
Food infection occurs as a result of ingestion of pathogenic microorganisms with food. The ingested microorganisms multiply in the gut and can cause diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid fever and cholera; intestinal parasites can cause diseases such as amoebiasis and taeniasis (tapeworm disease); and zoonotic foodborne diseases (i.e. those that are transmitted to humans from other animals), e.g. anthrax and bovine tuberculosis.
There are many different kinds of foodborne diseases and they may require different treatments, depending on the symptoms they cause. Illnesses that cause acute watery diarrhoea or persistent vomiting lead to dehydration if the person loses more body fluids and salts (electrolytes) than they are able to replace. It is therefore important to rehydrate the person, ideally with oral rehydration salts (ORS), or if this is not available, a simple mixture of clean water with some sugar and salt is advised.
Electrolytes are salts in the body that conduct electricity; they are found in all cells, blood and other body fluids, and are essential for normal functioning.